Sometimes I get the feeling that the technological items that are available to our children get a bad rap. I must admit, I am a bit old school when it comes to kids having in their possession, the latest gadgets and gear, fearing that it will take away from actual experiences, whether artistic, literary or outdoorsy. Recently with the experience gained from my youngest (the oldest child being the one parents are guilty of being by the book with), I realized that what I forbade while raising my daughter may actually be beneficial if used properly.
Tablets and television are in no way a replacement for experiences; however during the summer, that long stretch of time where parents run out of ideas as to how they can keep their kids entertained, they come in handy if used properly. How can we replace “bad” screen habits with educational ones?
1. Limiting screen time when it comes to video games, (the monotonous or violent ones that are very addictive and not at all healthy for the mind), is the logical thing to do. However, try to channel your children’s excitement for holding a tablet in their lap by installing educational activities. Anything from digital painting to puzzles, math problems to dressing up a virtual Barbie doll can keep your kids interested while gaining information and education in a format that is closer to their generation.
2. Monitor what they watch on YouTube or TV, steer clear from videos that over stimulate (especially when bedtime is near) or those with adult content such as violence or language. Kids mimic what they see and hear, let the aforementioned be unknown to them to keep them sheltered for as long as possible. Instead, allow some shows that promote science, friendship, life lessons and family. These are in the form of series or cartoons, many of which help kids understand certain situations and give them solutions.
These ideas give us a positive spin on a matter that can no longer be consider an epidemic, rather a reality that our world is shifting into digital format. Watching YouTube is no different than when we watched TV growing up, and painting on a tablet is very much like its counterpart on the old computers. By putting an optimistic twist to this, we can let go of our guilt when it comes to screen time, while at the same time control the hours of usage and most importantly, the content that adds value to our kids’ lives!
Maria Hage-Boutros Najem